Mindful Eating and Binge Eating Disorder

Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC Special Projects Coordinator at Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope

EDH120x200From the outside, binge eating disorder may simply seem like an issue or imbalance with food intake. Because a person with binge eating characteristically will eat abnormally large quantities of food in a short amount of time or seem out of control when it comes to eating, binge eating disorder may appear to be a food-related problem only.

However, there are underlying emotional issues that are manifested through these food habits and behaviors, which impair a person in multiple ways.

Breaking free from binge eating disorder is not just merely learning how to eat “correctly” or mustering greater self-control around food. Dealing with the underlying layers associated with this mental illness is crucial to finding recovery and being able to effectively manage the symptoms associated with binge eating disorder.

Treating BED Together

If you or someone you love has been struggling with binge eating, it may be both a relief and a challenge to understand that this mental illness is not just simply a food related issue. While it can be difficult to delve through the many layers that are part of this mental illness, there is hope through the BED recovery process and journey.

Thankfully, there are many treatment aspects that can help a person recover from binge eating disorder. Treatment is usually a collaborative approach among various eating disorder specialists, including a physician, therapist/counselor, and a registered dietitian.

Treatment therapies may vary but usually combine behavioral therapies, pharmacotherapy, and medical nutrition therapy. Combining alternative and conventional forms of treatment can also be an effective way of addressing binge eating disorder.


One style or philosophy treatment includes the practice of mindfulness. Originally rooted in Eastern influences, mindfulness teaches the practice or state of consciousness awareness of oneself, the present moment, thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations.

For some, the practice of mindfulness may seem like a far-fetched experience, something that cannot be easily achieved or understood.

Portrait Of Loving Hispanic Couple In CountrysideFor others, practicing mindfulness may seem much easier said then done. Wherever you may find yourself on the skeptical spectrum, understanding mindfulness is worth a try for binge eating disorder recovery. Integrating mindfulness techniques in binge eating disorder treatment has been shown to reduce binge eating, improve nutritional outcomes, improve weight management, as well as enhance diabetes management.

The practice of mindfulness might be achieved in many different forms including:

  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Tai chi
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Prayer

The essence of these techniques is to help individuals reconnect with themselves, something that is typically lost in the vicious cycles that come with eating disorder behaviors.

This can help a person on multiple levels, including regulating their food intake as they are better able to tune into the natural hunger and fullness cues of the body. Mindfulness also teaches acceptance of how a person may be feeling in the moment, which is also a reversal of what individuals feel who are struggling with binge eating disorder.

For example, a person might frequently turn to food as a way of managing overwhelming emotions such as:

  • Guilt
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Sadness

Food often inadvertently becomes a coping mechanism, a way of finding comfort or escaping from something uncomfortable.

Therapy & Mindfulness

Young Woman doing YogaMindfulness teaches an individual to not only understand what emotion they may be experiencing but how to accept these emotions as well.

Combining mindfulness techniques with other behavioral therapies, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or Dialectical behavioral Therapy can help a person adapt healthier coping mechanisms and strategies for difficult situations.

If you or a loved one is interested in learning more about how mindfulness can play a role in your recovery from binge eating disorder, be sure to inquire with your eating disorder treatment team or specialist about this technique.

There is a good chance that eating disorder specialists you work with may already incorporate this philosophy within their treatment protocol, but understanding how this is being applied to your treatment may also be helpful.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

Have you practiced mindfulness in your recovery from binge eating disorder? How did this help you more effectively manage symptoms of binge eating?

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on October 30, 2015
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com